Meanwhile, At The FCC….

Unlike many–most?–of Trump’s appointees, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai appears to know what he’s doing and how to do it. And that’s a big problem.

He’s already rolled back what The Street calls a “pillar of U.S. media ownership restrictions.

“Owners of local television stations will be permitted to buy a local radio station or newspaper in the same market after the Federal Communications Commissions on Thursday, Nov. 16, voted to lift the ban on cross-ownership that had stood since 1975. The agency, which has been fast eliminating restrictions long opposed by TV station companies, also eliminated a ban on two TV stations in the same market from entering into joint sales agreements to sell advertising.

The restrictions being lifted were intended to prevent any one political perspective from dominating a given media market. Here in Indianapolis, where right wing Sinclair is proposing purchase that will allow it to dominate the radio market, this new permissiveness is likely to facilitate a market blanketed with Fox-like, right wing propaganda.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican who orchestrated the changes, said the bans and other restrictions were no longer relevant given the advent of online news sources and the shrinking circulations of most local newspapers. The two Democrats on the five-person commission, echoing other critics, countered that Pai understated the importance and impact that local media sources continue to have despite the rise of Facebook Inc. and other social media platforms.

The damage this change will inflict pales, however, in comparison to Pai’s most cherished goal–the elimination of net neutrality rules.

As Time Magazine and a number of other news outlets have reported,

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday followed through on his pledge to repeal 2015 regulations designed to ensure that internet service providers treat all online content and apps equally, setting up a showdown with consumer groups and internet companies who fear the move will stifle competition and innovation.

The current rules, known as net neutrality, impose utility-style regulation on ISPs such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to prevent them from favoring their own digital services over those of their rivals.

Pai says he wants the FCC to stop “micromanaging” the Internet. What he calls micromanaging is what we used to call “regulating,” and although it is certainly possible to point to examples of excessive regulation, there was–and is–a reason for establishing “rules of the road.” The reasons for net neutrality rules are especially compelling.

As the Internet Association, a group composed of major internet companies such as Google and Amazon, put it,

“Consumers have little choice in their ISP, and service providers should not be allowed to use this gatekeeper position at the point of connection to discriminate against websites and apps.”

The group is fighting the change. So are many other organizations concerned with consumer rights.

Consumers Union predicted a repeal of net neutrality would allow ISPs to raise their prices and give preferential treatment to certain sites and apps.

“Strong net neutrality rules are vital to consumers’ everyday lives and essential to preserving the internet as we know it today — an open marketplace where websites large and small compete on equal terms and where information and ideas move freely,” said Jonathan Schwantes, the advocacy group’s senior policy counsel.

Two of the FCC’s five voting commissioners signaled they will oppose Pai’s plan.

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel derided Pai’s plan as “ridiculous and offensive to the millions of Americans who use the internet every day.”

Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn skewered Pai’s proposals as “a giveaway to the nation’s largest communications companies, at the expense of consumers and innovation.”

Before being named to the FCC, Pai was an executive at Verizon. I’m sure that’s an irrelevant factoid.(cough, cough).

The last time net neutrality was attacked, John Oliver delivered such an effective argument against the change that the switchboards at the FCC were overwhelmed; his diatribe was said to have prompted some 150,000 calls. Scheduling the vote for the week after Thanksgiving is a rather transparent effort to avoid that sort of public outrage, an effort to change the rule while people are otherwise occupied.

Let’s not allow that strategy to work. I encourage everyone to click through, watch Oliver’s explanation of what’s at stake–and then call the FCC.

15 thoughts on “Meanwhile, At The FCC….

  1. Fighting the fascist oligarchic swamp of this administration is a full time job. We citizens are being attacked from all sides on a daily basis.

  2. Having dealt directly (and unsuccessfully) with the FCC regarding lack of closed captioning on weather reports and bulletins on local newscasts a few years ago and being disgusted with (but continue to subscribe to) the Indianapolis Star and Gannett’s ownership; I did some research on Gannett. Below I copied and pasted their comments regarding the issue on the blog today.

    “Gannett has repeatedly argued in comments filed with the Commission that,
    although the marketplace has evolved with lightning speed, the Commission’s media
    ownership rules have remained in limbo, artificially constraining the ability of traditional
    media companies to compete in this multimedia universe. Most importantly, the limits
    on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership that remain in place today continue to deny
    consumers the established and sizable benefits that can be achieved by more efficient
    combinations of resources in the media sector.”

    Obviously; Gannett is all for becoming a member of and benefit from FCC “takeover”. I also researched some basic information about Gannett; the company “owns over 100 daily newspapers (in 5 Indiana cities), nearly 1,000 weekly newspapers in 43 U.S. States, the U.S. territory of Guam and 6 countries. Gannett’s top stockholder is Marshwinds Advisory whose list of stock holdings leaves few major corporations NOT on their list. Google only the holdings of Marshwinds Advisory to see the areas of our lives which will be affected, if NOT controlled by, these FCC changes. Our food and sources of medical supplies are some major issues which will be among their “market blanket” control. We will all be owned and controlled by Wall Street and Trump and his minions, including the current Republican controlled Congress, will reign supreme over this country. Trump is back to publicly supporting Putin and Russia (and preferring an accused child molester over a Democratic Senatorship); spitting in the eye of Robert Mueller and his investigation committee.

    This issue is not simply TV stations buying newspapers!!! Connect the dots.

    “The restrictions being lifted were intended to prevent any one political perspective from dominating a given media market. Here in Indianapolis, where right wing Sinclair is proposing purchase that will allow it to dominate the radio market, this new permissiveness is likely to facilitate a market blanketed with Fox-like, right wing propaganda.”

  3. The Net Neutrality issue has been brewing up for several years. Here in Indiana Comcast was given a monopoly over certain geographic territories, similar to utilities. Comcast does not seem to be governed by any type of price controls for this monopoly.

    Comcast controls the content you receive. Comcast decides content you will receive within their packages. I stopped my Indy Star subscription several years ago. I will go to the library, etc., and read it there. The talent-less Gary Varvel among others in the Star on a regular basis provide a Right Wing theocratic view in the editorial section.

    Good article Internet Defenders Urge Mass Revolt to Fight FCC’s “Scorched-Earth” Attack on Net Neutrality – https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/11/21/internet-defenders-urge-mass-revolt-fight-fccs-scorched-earth-attack-net-neutrality

    Those of you old enough may remember the Science Fiction TV Show Outer Limits, it had a chilling intro – “There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. ”

    The so called News Networks CNN, FOX and MSNBC are the manifestation of the Outer Limits intro – 24/7/365 editorial commentary skewed to a particular audience.

  4. If Sinclair takes over, everyone will long for the good old days when Fox News was the heart of conservative media.

  5. Being further curious about ownership of Marshwinds Advisory, primary stockholder in Gannett Company who own the Indianapolis Star and daily newspapers in 4 other Indiana cities and will be directly affected by these FCC decisions; I further researched ownership of Marshwinds Advisory. I find the information rather frightening; they can be added to the Koch brothers as co-owners of Wall Street and the current administration in the White House.

    Marshwinds Advisory list three Direct Owners, 1 as adviser: Eugene Aloysius Kelly, Chairman; Eugene Aloysius Kelly, Chief Compliance Officer; Judy Aaron Kelly, Control Person. Indirect Owners are listed as Eugene Aloysius Kelly and Judy Aaron Kelly. The company has 100 clients and controls 450 accounts. Significant Red Flags listed; Disclosure Reporting pages – none, and Potential conflicts listed regarding Transactions in Recommended Securities.

    The company is listed with the SEC so obviously has their approval.

    These are insights into Wall Street controllers; the stock market numbers reflect the amount of control over all corporations and, in turn, control of our government and the country. Marshwinds Advisory is but one of the few controlling our day-to-day lives. Those 450 accounts controlled by this company alone rules every aspect of our lives. This control has been slipped through government offices for years, sans public knowledge, as we have been arguing politics. What else do we NOT know?

    As I said before; this FCC issue is not simply TV stations buying newspapers.

  6. Ms. Kennedy,
    I was an executive for 20 years in telecommunications and you have it precisely correct. Those who want to understand the background/context for all this I recommend Tim Wu’s “The Master Switch”.

  7. There is indeed a vast right wing conspiracy to undo Sherman under the banner of “micromanaging” versus regulation of our “free market” economy. We now have a government that not only is not enforcing Sherman, it is by law approving of monopolies in restraint of trade and other features of Sherman designed to protect consumers from monopolistic practices. The example of the FCC’s regulation or lack thereof cited by Sheila today which is rightly anchored in a public utility concept will soon be a thing of the past as the forces of privatization take over. I find this particularly egregious as it will amount not only to a takeover but will also give virtually exclusive propaganda platforms to those who are to the right of Fox News. Such potential for brainwashing goes beyond even the Goebbels-Hitler template. or fascism on steroids served up Sinclair-style.

  8. The Internet is civilizations newest utility, information. It stands side by side with water and energy and liquid and solid waste removal and airwaves and street plowing and street lighting and education and public safety as necessary services in markets that simply don’t lend themselves to competition.

    Republicans seem to have missed the education that I assumed was available to us all that taught that consumers aren’t shielded from a good screwing by Capitalism (make more money regardless of the impact on others) but by competition which can’t be regulated in many markets because of the nature of the means of production for the goods and services in those markets.

    Thus this debacle is not about consumers at all, it’s about empowering politics to influence voters in order to elect politicians owned by oligarchs.

    Politics has become an entitlement of wealth instead of we, the people. It is self serving in that regard. It creates a product, wealth redistribution, that can be bought, and the means of production involve influential media as an investment for politicians that allows them to stay elected despite serving not voters but donors. The donors pay for the media.

    If you consider every “conservative” meme of the last 30 years that’s been the theme. It’s packaged as government overreach and freedom and the Constitution and over regulation and excessive taxes but it’s none of those things. It’s the selling of the country that voters own, to the highest bidder, with the proceeds split among politicians and media owners and owner/donors.

    It will sink the ship of state. It is sinking it. We realistically have one opportunity in 2020 to choose between saving the ship or going down with it.

  9. Gerald; in my later comments yesterday regarding the privatization of disbursement of our public employee retirement funds in Indiana; the response I received from my Democratic Representative Dan Forestal’s staff member stated “…it is not privatization because it has been done since 2009; they simply changed vendors…”. I was NOT relieved to get a reply to my response that using vendors IS privatization as they are not government employees; she informed me she had simply sent me the answer she received from the Republican administration of INPRS. So; neither Republicans or that current Democratic employee in our State Legislature understands the terminology or the use of non-government employees to perform government jobs. And we have been thinking the problem is with the Republicans; what other mind-sets and lack of knowledge is at the root of our current government “deconstruction” of democracy and our basic civil and human rights?

    This FCC issue covers a vast amount of governmental authority and the survival of the American way of life.

  10. Unregulated, free-market capitalism is precisely what Karl Marx said would destroy capitalism. By giving the media owners and the internet the capability to monopolize markets, the fascist conspiracy will be nearly complete.

    History shows that most regulations have a reason for being: Somebody was getting screwed by someone else, or the playing field was tipped as to be unfair toward certain favored groups. Virtually everything this current batch of Republican fascists, now in charge of government, has to do with de-regulating everything to the advantage of that party. By definition, fascism is the marriage between government and industry/business. The last, worst example of this marriage was in Germany from 1933-1945. The abortion from that marriage was World War II, the total destruction of civilization in parts of Europe, the rise of communism to fill the void left by the collapse of fascism and, not least, the Cold War which still seems to want to make a comeback today.

    The message to us all must be: The sooner we can vote out all the Republicans, the sooner we can get our country back on track to the fair and balanced approach to business, media and politics. This generation of Republicans has lurched even further to the right and threatens our very democracy within our democratic republic. This, of course, is primarily due to the big, libertarian money (Koch Industries, Olin, Scaife, Coors, Mercer, et. al.) buying the Republican Party.

  11. Great lesson in last paragraph of Vernon Turner’s post this morning:
    Vote your entire ballot for any candidates except Republicans.
    You’ll get good and bad but you already have the worst in office.
    Oust them before the oust you!

  12. Monotonous: I adored The Outer Limits – never missed an episode.

    John Neal: thanks for the Reference to the Wu book.

    Everybody: Repeal of NN is in perfect step with this kleptocratic administration and a compliant GOP-led Congress son of surprise there. Despite the daily attacks on our public institutions and accepted political norms, please find something you can still be thankful for and have an enjoyable and restful Thanksgiving with family and friends.

    And if politics and/or policy come up over dinner – TAKE NO PRISONERS!

    PW

  13. Pete:” We realistically have one opportunity in 2020 to choose between saving the ship or going down with it.”

    Nope. That ship has sailed decades ago. 1968 was the year. You’ll continue to go down.And deservedly so.

    The ship will continue to sink. America (and it’s not primarily the fault of Trump) is nothing more than an arrogant and ossified zombie whose prime has long passed. It’s been decades in the making. The public did nothing but continue to vote for those responsible. Because brand loyalty, corny celebrity status and adequate candidates will suffice. Or,as the old saying goes; Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the ……

    Americans will always vote against their interests. They’re still being asked to vote against their interests…even by many of this forum.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *